Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year Goal #1 - Tai Chi Chuan

I have always been drawn to the slow, mindful, meaningful moves of Tai Chi Chuan. You know, the moves you sometimes see old folks doing. I think the first time I ever saw it was in a movie; I wish I could remember which one. I'm pretty sure there was a nicely kept park involved as well. I can almost smell the freshly cut grass and hear the birds. Almost...we are just coming out of record low -49 (real feel) temperatures here after all.

Tai Chi Chuan or Taijiquan is centuries old. It is an ancient Chinese method of exercise for health, strength and longevity. Tai Chi is "moving meditation". How intriguing, no?? It combines postures and movements into a flowing form which in turn stretches and strengthens many of the body's muscles and tendons, not to mention enhancing blood circulation. Tai Chi stabilizes balance, increases flexibility and reduces stress. The slow soothing movements of Tai Chi incorporate deep breathing and the relaxing postures will cleanse the mind and the body each time the gentle flowing movements are carried out.  This practice is also said to unblock and encourage the proper flow of "qi", an energy force that flows throughout the body.

There are several different aspects to Tai Chi compared to other types of exercise. In Tai Chi, the  movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles remain relaxed not tensed, the joints are not fully extended, and connective tissues are not stretched. 

It sounds like it could also be called "medication in motion" because there is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has some value in treating or preventing many health problems. This Harvard webpage has a lot of cool information in terms of how it works, evidence for how a low-impact exercise like this can actually strengthen muscles, and a long list of health issues it can help, including arthritis, breast cancer and hypertension.

It can be practiced by all ages and body types and you don't need any special clothing, skills or equipment. All you need is the desire and time to practice.

I have a DVD that I used to learn the basics but I've been wanting to take a class with a professional to make sure I'm doing it right. Two weeks from today I finally begin a 6 week class near me! I can't wait to learn more and feel the benefits of this age old exercise! I will share how it went and what I learned when it's over. 

Three cheers for putting action towards goals!


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  2. I think this is a great idea! Let me know how it goes because I have been thinking about doing something like this too.